Corporate social responsibility terminologies in small businesses: insights from Malaysia

Mehran Nejati (Based in the School of Management, Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM), Penang, Malaysia)
Azlan Amran (Based in the Graduate School of Business, Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM), Penang, Malaysia)

Business Strategy Series

ISSN: 1751-5637

Publication date: 4 January 2013



Since understanding the corporate social responsibility (CSR) practices of small businesses in any country requires investigating the terminologies used by their small businesses for such social practices, the aim of this paper is to gain an understanding of the common terminologies used by SME owners/manager/directors in a developing country, namely Malaysia.


This is a quantitative study which used a sample of 100 small businesses is its survey. Most of the investigated SMEs were based in Northern states of Malaysia.


This study showed that the most common terminology for CSR among investigated Malaysia SMEs was “responsible business practice” followed by “corporate social responsibility”, “social/ societal engagement” and “environmental involvement”.

Research limitations/implications

The main limitations of this research are associated with its sample size and geographical distribution of samples. Findings of the study warn researchers to be cautious in selecting the appropriate CSR term for different contexts, specifically in SMEs' context.

Practical implications

Findings of this study enable authorities and managers of large companies to use the appropriate term in their future communications with SMEs with regard to CSR.


Being among the first of its kind to tackle this issue in SME contexts in the developing countries, this paper can provide new insights for both researchers and practitioners and change their outlook on CSR in small businesses.



Nejati, M. and Amran, A. (2013), "Corporate social responsibility terminologies in small businesses: insights from Malaysia", Business Strategy Series, Vol. 14 No. 1, pp. 11-14.

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